What is chemistry, and how I know it's there.

After so many discussions and comments relating to chemistry, as a result of my first date with the Accountant post, I did a bit of research.

Some people thought of chemistry as predominantly a physical thing – but it’s more than that for me. I also realized I experience chemistry with new people I meet that aren’t romantic possibilities – so its definitely not that I want to get in someone’s pants.

So I looked it up. An article on Psychology Today online (credited below) says the core components of both friendship and romantic chemistry include non-judgment, similarity, mystery, attraction, mutual trust, and effortless communication.

I had to take the dating comparisons out of my head to think about the kind of people with whom I click. Effortless communication is a big one for me – I like confidence, a quick wit, and verbal banter. This was a key difference between my FetLife date from the others.

The balance of similarity and mystery is an interesting one – I really enjoy talking to people who do different things than I, which piques my curiosity. I love to learn. But perhaps the similarity comes on a different level… I will have to think about this some more.

Then I wondered if people experience chemistry the same way. The article said people were more likely to experience friendship chemistry if their personalities were open (e.g., adventurous, imaginative, and emotionally in-tune), conscientious (e.g., competent, disciplined, hard-working), and agreeable (e.g., friendly, cooperative, and considerate). It went on to say that openness and conscientiousness were key determinants of romantic chemistry as well, but agreeableness was less important.

I am certainly open and probably conscientious.

What really struck me (my heart, especially), was the author’s rumination whether chemistry involves something that cannot be explained by science. She believed it could be caused by a spiritual connection, remembering the future, or destiny.

There’s definitely much more to say on the topic, but I wanted to share these definitions with you as food for though. When you think about having chemistry with someone, does this list resonate?



23 thoughts on “What is chemistry, and how I know it's there.

  1. It is interesting to see how we function in this world. As much as there is attraction in maybe the littlest of things or gestures.
    I also found it work the other way around as well. Some people just creep you out or are appalling for some weird reason unseen. It might just work both ways.

    Going on about this might touch different kinds of explanation. An aura of someone might cause such chemistry. Other scientist might call it sub-consciousness.

    I enjoy this read, as it is an interesting thing to talk about in so many ways. Thank you for a great read.

    • Thank you!! Yes you are totally right about the reverse as well. When you just DONT click with someone.

      I think there’s more to it than science can explain, for sure.

  2. The question of similarity really speaks to me. When I met my ex-husband in my early 20s I was very intrigued by our different backgrounds and experiences. However as we aged and dealt with real life (jobs, kids etc) those differences became problematic and we grew apart. Post-divorce we are now both with partners who are much more similar to each of us in terms of ethnicity, cultural experiences etc. I feel very lucky that I have now found all the components of chemistry that you mention and that our similar backgrounds allow me to feel accepted and understood to a degree that I never felt in my marriage.

    • It’s interesting Holly – I do think there are things we don’t realize are important when we are younger. I know I should have realized from looking at my ex’s parents relationship it would have been a rough ride with him.

      There’s an interesting balance between intrigue and similarity. I’m getting better at figuring out which things I need to have alignment on, and where the differences are interesting. More to contemplate for sure!!

  3. Effortless communication is definitely the biggest one for me, as an introvert, communicating with someone I don’t know well can be tricky anyway, but introvert or not, I think everyone has situations with new people where they have to really struggle to think of things to say, it’s painful, and other times where it just flows and you feel like you could keep going for hours. As you say, that can be the same whether it’s a potential romantic partner or not. When you find it with people, whether in a work, or personal situation, you really want to keep hold of it – what I find though, and I don’t know if this is just my own insecurities or if it’s the same with everyone, but when I’m feeling that with someone new, I don’t necessarily have confidence in assuming they feel the same, for all I know maybe they have that with everyone they meet and it’s nothing special with me, ya know?

    • I totally know what you mean about communication and suppose as an introvert it could be more challenging.

      With Tony that first date it just flowed. It’s the same feeling when I meet new people and think “yes! I want you to be my friend!!”.

      And I totally know what you mean about being unsure if it’s mutual. With dating I’ve found it puzzling when the conversation is super easy yet it goes nowhere. I figure it’s more about timing and perhaps where they are with others.

      With non romantic relationships I’m getting better at building new friendships – inviting them to parties I have and the like. I realize how important friendships are try to capitalize when I find new people I really enjoy.

  4. Absolutely! The scientific side definitely resonates (in retrospect of past relationships) but I am strongly attached to the unexplained spiritual connection. There are several people who I had relationships with (connections with and without intimacy – male and female friendships) that just seemed to be effortless. I am eternally grateful and blessed to have reunited with the most profound of them and to have married him.

  5. I have been pondering chemistry lately also. These core components are definitely there. I don’t connect with everyone. The ones I do connect with all vary depending on which components are strongest with each of them.

  6. Loved this writing, Ann. I’ve always thought that when people say that the chemistry isn’t there with someone, there’s a good chance that they’ve got something going on in their minds that has them looking for specific things that, to them, equates to chemistry… but that doesn’t make them particularly objective or open to that “magic” connection.

    And, as I mentioned, some people think that chemistry can’t be created, that it’s always supposed to just happen and it supposed to be spontaneous. And, yep, there are some people you can come across where the right mix of stuff just isn’t there to facilitate spontaneity or your ability to make some chemistry of your own – and by this I mean creating an environment where compatibility can be possible or, “How can we make this work?”

    Yeah, I think there’s something to chemistry that there are no words for; whether it’s mystical or spiritual, eh, I have no friggin’ idea… but when it lands on you, there’s no doubt in your mind that chemistry’s on steroid and running wild on you like Hulkamania.

    I do think that we all have our own idea of chemistry is (or should be) and I’m fairly sure that I understand a little of why this isn’t some “universal constant” for everyone. Hell, I thought I knew what it was… until I actually experienced it so I had to revise my thinking way upward and, yeah, my dumb ass got run over by the Hulkamania version…

  7. Third list really resonates. Especially effortless communication – that’s key. And just feeling comfortable and at ease instantly. Kindred spirits are done thing I call people who I share that chemistry with – romantic partners or not.

    • Kindred spirits – indeed.

      I went on a date last night with a guy who was a really high match on OK Cupid. Great conversation, obvious alignment intellectually. Even the goodnight kiss was good. And I’m not attracted to him AT ALL. Really not sure what to do with that.

      • I had this SAME thing happen on a first day a few weeks back from OKCupid. He was a high match. Great conversation, and same as you – obvious alignment intellectually – and the kiss he gave me wasn’t bad either. I just wasn’t feeling it. The chemistry wasn’t there. AT ALL. And so I did what only I could do. Listened to my gut. If the chemistry isn’t there now, it isn’t going to be there at all ever, I think. So, I’ve been nice, responded briefly to his texts, but haven’t reached out to him since so he knows I’m not interested. Which sucks. I hate doing that. But what am I going to say “I’m sorry, you’re a great guy, but I just didn’t feel any chemistry?” that seems way harsh.

        • I have in fact said that to someone before – in as gentle way as possible – because it’s not anything they could have done differently. As frustrating as it is to hear (I’ve heard it, as well), I have tried to be honest with someone when I’m just not feeling it. I *hate* being on the backburner, or getting the slow fade…

          For me, with this guy, there was definite intellectual chemistry. Even physical chemistry – the kiss was really good. But I simply couldn’t find any part of him that made me physically attracted…and I’m pretty good at dating against my type. In this case, I think I should give him a second chance. If there was no spark in the kiss, then there’d be no chance. But there was….and men who are a good match for me are hard to find in the dating puddle.

          • I suppose I haven’t been on the receiving end of the slow fade enough to be frustrated by it (though I guess I haven’t been frustrated enough by it to feel bad about doing it to someone else. . . :-P)
            I’m curious to see how the second date goes for you, and if the chemistry will build for you.

          • If you are both fading slowly then it’s all okay, I suppose. You don’t have to risk hurting any feelings.

            But when it sucks is when you want to see someone again and you feel them slowly pulling away.

          • Yea, I get you. I think he wants to see me again – but I’m not giving him hope that we will. If he contacts me again I’ll be honest.
            I got the slow fade from Luke but k also expected it – so it didn’t hurt so bad though I did want to see him again

What do you think?